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The paper seeks to analyze the British Rule in India, the discrimination, the violence, and the various reforms carried out by them. The question about whether India really benefited from the Colonized rule, or whether the British used the country for its own selfish needs is debatable. The paper tries to study all facts, take into account all the viewpoints, and come to a conclusion of the same.
Thesis Statement: Despite all the points in favor of the same, India did not benefit from the Colonization because of the rampant exploitation by the Britons on the Indians, going to extreme extent to fulfill their selfish needs, forcing inhumane exploitation, and the tremendous amount of violence conducted against the Indian people, performing racial discrimination, and various other aspects.
In view of the above claim, following are some of the points that prove the fact that India was nothing but exploited throughout the 200 years of its Colonized rule:
§ Divide and Rule policy: The former rule of Divide and rule was the first that the government made to rule and govern all the major British provision states and Indian princely states. The rule first came into existence during the Lord Curzon viceroy, who divided the Bengal province into three parts i.e. Eastern Bengal and Assam as the Muslim majority states and also Hindu majority province of West Bengal, which had a huge blow for the country as because it led and created significant outrage among the countrymen. Not only this the biggest divide and rule policy that appeared at the time of independence when the country divided into two parts one is India and another one is Pakistan the burden of which still being seen during the conflict between Indo-Pak war.
§ Impalement of Tax structure: The government imposed illiberal tax structure and used to collect high taxes and also greater return on profits. However, the burden of which levies on small peasants, farmers, and small traders.
§ Loss of lives: The regime of British government the country suffered the loss of many lives such as in Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, the rebellion of 1857, etc. During the World, War government used to recruit many Indian citizens to join the troops even if they are not interested which results in loss and loss of lives. The government didn’t care about the people; they only care about their reputation and prestige and making marks in world history.
§ Exploitation of resources: The government duly exploited the resources of the country and traded them in another country in order to earn revenue and capture the trade market.
In this paper, we would start to look at the emergence of the East India Company in India, the British Rule, and seize of Power in India. We would then start to look at various issues and why the various aspects stated in favor of the British are fake and superficial, and underneath lies nothing but selfish reasons in promulgation to their cause.
In the year 1757, the East India Company started its operations in the Indian Subcontinent. India was then a land of a number of princely states, ruled by the Mughals at the Centre. It was also a huge exporter of silk, indigo, spices, etc. During its first century operation, the focus of the company was a trade, not the building of an empire in India. Company interests turned from trade to territory during the 18th century as the Mughal Empire declined in power and the East India Company struggled with its French Counterpart, the French East India Company during the Carnatic wars of the 1740s and 1750s. The battles of Plassey and Buxar, in which the British defeated the Indian powers, left the company in control of Bengal, a major part of the military and political power in India. In the following decades, it gradually increased the extent of the territories in control, ruling the whole Indian Subcontinent either directly or indirectly via local puppet rulers. The British rule is hailed by a large number of countrymen, citing various reasons. Following are some of them:
§ Social Reforms: British raj in India had done various social activities for the country for instance abolition of The Sati Pratha and introduction Widow Remarriage Act of 1856, Child marriage restraint Act, Act against child labor and many other acts for improving the social tradition and custom for the betterment of humanity.
§ Education reforms: During the British Raj only India existing education changed with the introduction of English as the mandatory subject and official language. During British Raj only University of Bombay, Kolkata, and Madras were established during the year of 1857 just before the rebellion. The university is still present and being run by modern Independent India as a most prestigious university.
§ Employment Scheme: The British government also introduces the Indian Civil Service for the various prestigious posts under the government. The Imperial Civil Service at present is known as the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) which is conducted by UPSC.
§ Irrigation scheme: The government also structured various canals and dams for the improvement of irrigation condition in India.
§ Infrastructure development: During the regime of British government the India communication and transport facility was developed. The government established India’s first railway’s service in the year of 1853-54 in the region of Bombay and Calcutta by the two railways companies i.e. Great Indian Peninsula Railway (GIPR) and East Indian Railway (EIR). After 5 years in the year of 1859, the first passenger railway line opened in North India between Allahabad and Kanpur.
§ Monuments, Legal Tenders, Heritage Site: The government had also introduced the legal tender as an official medium of exchange at the time trading. Also they had built many heritage sites and monuments among them Victoria Memorial Hall in Kolkata, Victoria Terminus (now termed as Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus), The Gateway Of India, Viceroy’s House (now called as Rashtrapati Bhavan), Asiatic Society of India in order to preserve the Indian monuments, literary script and many more.
Britain’s exploitative, racist imperial project in India was awesome in its savagery and vindictiveness, what Tharoor calls a “long and shameless record of capacity”. The recent books are a welcome antidote to the nauseating righteousness and condescension pedalled by Niall Ferguson in his 2003 book Empire, which argues that British imperialism gave the world its admirable and distinctive features (language, banking, representative assemblies, the idea of liberty) and that India, “the world’s largest democracy, owes more than it is fashionable to acknowledge to British rule”.
Tharoor sets out energetically, bluntly and hurriedly the litany of exploitation and theft, and the support is given to the East India Company. This was before the Government of India Act of 1858 led the British crown to assume direct control. The company had a private army of 260,000 at the start of the 19th century, and the champions of the British industrial revolution plundered India’s thriving manufacturing industries.
Under British rule, India’s share of world manufacturing exports fell from 27 percent to 2 percent as East India employees made colossal fortunes. The Marquess of Salisbury, secretary of state for India in the 1870s, remarked that “India is to be bled”, and by the end of the 19th century, it was Britain’s biggest source of revenue.
“To stop is dangerous; to recede ruin” was the logic, as enunciated early by Robert Clive, commander in chief of British India in the mid-18th century. The Indian shipping industry was destroyed and Indian currency manipulated while tariffs and regulations were skewed to favor British industry.
Tharoor also demolishes the British boast that it left India in 1947 a functioning democracy. And although he might exaggerate the extent to which pre-colonial village self-rule was ideal (“a society of little societies” in the soft phrase of Jon Wilson), he does expose the hollowness of Queen Victoria’s 1858 proclamation that “in their prosperity will be our strength, in their contentment our security and in their gratitude our best reward”.
This fostered a court culture for Indian princes to follow, and there were many dissolute rajas, but just 4 percent of the coveted positions in the Indian civil service were filled by Indians as late as 1930. The nationalist leader Jawaharlal Nehru was cutting in his dismissal of a civil service that was “neither Indian, nor civil, nor a service”.
By 1890 about 6,000 British officials ruled 250 million Indians, but there was also a “cravenness, cupidity, opportunism and lack of organized resistance on the part of the vanquished”.
Ultimately, it was the rise of Mahatma Gandhi and his promotion of the moral values derived from Satyagraha (nonviolent resistance) that “proved a repudiation of British liberalism and not its vindication”.
India’s native newspapers were also devoured. In 1875 an estimated 475 newspapers existed, most owned and edited by Indians, but severe restrictions were placed on their operations and editors. British racial theories were in full flow in relation to railway matters, with legislation making it impossible for Indian workshops to design and manufacture locomotives.
Racism was also reflected in the penal code: “there had never been a taboo against homosexuality in Indian culture and practice until the British Victorians introduced one.” Crucially, Britain also “helped solidify and perpetuate the iniquities of the caste system”, which was made out to be more uniform and pervasive than it had been. Religion became a useful means of divide and rule, with the fostering of a two-nation theory that eventually divided the country and made partition inevitable; one million were killed and 17 million displaced.
Tharoor’s assertion that “stories abound” of Hindu and Muslim communities “habitually working together in pre-colonial times” is a bit loose and ambiguous, but Lord Oliver, the secretary of state in the 1920s, admitted a predominant bias in British officialdom in favor of the Muslim community to offset Hindu nationalism. The British also sponsored a Shia-Sunni divide in Lucnow and generally transformed religious differences into public, political and legal issues.
There are also reminders of the vile racism of Winston Churchill: “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion . . . Let the Viceroy sit on the back of a giant elephant and trample Gandhi into the dirt.” Tharoor demolishes the myth of “enlightened despotism” given brutalities like the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919, with soldiers “emptying their magazines into the shrieking, wailing, then stampeding crowd with trained precision”. William Joynson-Hicks, home secretary in the 1928 Conservative government of Stanley Baldwin, also commented that “we conquered India by the sword and by the sword we shall hold it. I am not such a hypocrite to say we hold India for the Indians.”
Up to 35 million died unnecessarily in famines; London ate India’s bread while India starved, and in 1943 nearly four million Bengalis died. It was their own fault, according to the odious Churchill, for “breeding like rabbits”. Collectively, these famines amounted to a “British colonial holocaust”.
Tharoor finds the argument that modernization could not have taken place in India without British imperialism to be “particularly galling”. In response to the claim that empire laid the foundations for eventual success in a future globalized world, he quite rightly observes that “human beings do not live in the long run; they live, and suffer, in the here and now”. And although the “gift” of the English language cannot be denied, there was only a 16 percent literacy rate at the time of Indian independence.
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